Former US President Ronald Reagan first dreamt of the idea of putting laser technology into outer space which under military guidance would be able to detect and subsequently shoot down a Soviet missile launch. His project, called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was his response to address the threats of the Cold War. Needless to say, his defense project never quite got off the ground because of cost and concerns over inaccuracy of the system.
Fast forward to 2010 and a group of scientists have developed an anti-mosquito laser then can shoot down up to 50-100 mosquitoes per second. Their new technology, which was presented at the recent TED conference, was the culmination of two years of work that was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an effort to find innovative solutions to the problem of malaria.
The project lead, Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures explains that the early prototypes were cost prohibitive and ineffective thus rendering them useless for poor countries where malaria outbreaks are much more common. Their newest laser seems to meet the criteria they set out in advance of the project. Not only is it cheaper, but it is discriminatory and can kill “billions of mosquitos a night and you could do so without harming butterflies.”
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